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Research Areas

Research Areas

Research in our department spans a wide array of topics related to human health, agriculture, and biotechnology. The focus of faculty research programs can be broadly classified in the areas listed below.


Structural Biology and Biophysics

Crystal structure of xyloglucan xylosyltransferase IA deep understanding of molecular mechanism requires an atomic-level view of the biomolecules that carry out cellular processes. Our faculty have expertise in cryo-EM, X-ray crystallography, NMR, mass spectrometry, and single-molecule microscopy and use state-of-the-art facilities at Iowa State to tackle important structural questions.

Amy Andreotti, Tom Bobik, Baoyu (Stone) Chen, Mark Hargrove, Richard Honzatko, Robert Jernigan, Walter Moss, Reuben Peters, Julien Roche, Dipali Sashital, Yeon-Kyun Shin, Michael Shogren-Knaak, Eric Underbakke, Yang Yang, Olga Zabotina



Plant Biochemistry

Plant-specific biomolecules and pathways are unique and of critical importance for a variety of applications, from agriculture to the biosynthesis of pharmaceuticals and biofuels. Our department has an historical strength in plant biochemistry, with a goal of understanding key molecular mechanisms that enable sustainable agriculture and synthetic biology.

Mark Hargrove, Gustavo Macintosh, Alan Myers, Basil Nikolau, Reuben Peters, Olga Zabotina



Nucleic Acid Biochemistry

RNA-ligand interaction

The structures and functions of nucleic acids and their protein partners are central to biology and biotechnology. Many labs in our department explore diverse questions on chromatin structure and biology, DNA repair, gene expression, non-coding RNA, and nucleic acid tool development.

Robert Jernigan, Jorgen Johansen, Gustavo Macintosh, Walter Moss, Scott Nelson, Marit Nilsen-Hamilton, Dipali Sashital, Michael Shogren-Knaak, Yang Yang



Molecular Signaling

signaling complexesSignaling between and within cells is essential for communication and responses to environmental changes. Several labs in our department explore the molecular mechanisms of cell signaling to understand how interactions between proteins and other biomolecules elicit specific spatiotemporal responses.

Amy Andreotti, Don Beitz, Baoyu (Stone) Chen, Marit Nilsen-Hamilton, Julien Roche, Yeon-Kyun Shin, Eric Underbakke



Microbial Biochemistry

microcompartmentsMicrobes are the most abundant life forms on earth, and have important implications for human health, agriculture, and biotechnology. Research labs in our department explore a variety of questions related to microorganisms, including how bacteria can use alternative carbon sources, how microbes can be used to synthesize useful bioproducts, and how parasites replicate and evolve to avoid immune response.

Tom Bobik, Alan Dispirito, Walter Moss, Scott Nelson, Basil Nikolau, Reuben Peters, Dipali Sashital, Yang Yang